Webinar series: Republics of Letters around the Globe (2 April – 4 June 2021)

Dear all,

These webinars might be of interest to some people on this list.

From 2 April to 4 June 2021, the SKILLNET project of Utrecht University will organize a series of webinars. A string of historians will give presentations about early modern transnational learned communities in the Eurasian continent, shedding light on the essence of what constitutes a transnational scholarly and scientific community.

The modern study of the early modern ‘Republic of Letters’ usually celebrates the moral heritage of the values of this social phenomenon: egalitarianism, tolerance, the idea of sharing knowledge, and meritocracy. Yet, the Republic of Letters was highly exclusive: it was academic, white, male, European, and heterosexual, and as such self-consciously elitist. The label of the ‘Republic of Letters’ also is predominantly attached to north-western Europe, and privileges the protestant learned world. Yet, within and outside of Europe, there were numerous learned networks active that did not fare under the name of a ‘Republic of Letters’, but that did function in the same ways.

Do we always capture these learned commonality in terms of networks? And what kind of networks apart from the obvious epistolary ones that are so typical of the Republic of Letters: (co-)citation networks, books linking people, networks of learned families, master-apprentice relations, inter-institutional correspondence, shared membership of institutions or societies, academic enrollment networks, disputations linking people?

The webinars will be hosted on Zoom. All sessions will be held on Fridays 15:00-16:30 CEST. Please register via skillnet@uu.nl by 12:00 CEST on the day before. You will subsequently receive invitations to all the other sessions. Registration is free!


Friday 2 April, 15:00-16:30 CEST, webinar 1: Jewish, Ottoman and Women’s networks

  • Shmuel Feiner (Bar Ilan University): The New Letter Circulating in the Streets”: The Haskalah as a Communication Revolution
  • Helen Pfeifer (Cambridge University): Cultural Encounters in Sixteenth-Century Ottoman Literary Salons
  • Carol Pal (Bennington College): The Women’s Republic of Letters

Friday 16 April, 15:00-16:30 CEST, webinar 2: Arabic and Japanese networks

  • Alex Bevilacqua (Williams College), The European Republic of Arabic Letters
  • Wim Boot/Anna Beerens (University of Leiden): Japanese scholarly networks

Friday 23 April, 15:00-16:30 CEST, webinar 3: Medieval, Iberian and Arabic networks

  • Irene van Renswoude (Universtiy of Amsterdam), Medieval European learned networks
  • Antonio Dávila Perez (Universidad de Cádiz), Networks of Hebrew and anti-Hebrew learning in Europe
  • Vevian Zaki (Hill Museum and Manuscript library), The internal mobility of Arabic-speaking Christians in the Ottoman Empire

Friday 14 May, 15:00-16:30 CEST, webinar 4: Jewish and Arabic-Christian networks 

  • David Sclar (Harvard University), Jewish intellectual and pietistic networks
  • James Pickett (University of Pittsburg), Central Asian intellectual networks

Friday 28 May, 15:00-16:30 CEST, webinar 5:  Western Asiatic, women’s and Timurid networks

  • Sonja Brentjes (Max Planck Institut für Wissenschaftsgeschichte), Cross-cultural encounters in the Mediterranean and western Asia
  • Elisabet Göransson (Lund University), Female networks in early modern Europe
  • Evrim Binbaș (Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität), Timurid intellectual exchanges

Friday 4 June, 15:00-16:30 CEST, Round Screen: what have we learned? Each participant shares five minutes of observations of how listening to other people’s experiences with similar material from different global contexts has affecte their way of conceptualising collective intellectual identities that cross borders.


Published by Ingeborg van Vugt
March 26, 2021

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